Scaredy Cats Anonymous

Had a good scare lately?  If not, you should!

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used a microphone in my life.  I shrivel up at the thought of speaking into one, and would rather change litterboxes all day than voluntarily give a speech to a crowd.  I did pick up a microphone this past weekend however, after agreeing to be a panelist and workshop leader at a WAHM Expo.  While the show didn’t quite turn out as promised (attendance was abysmally low) I did use that dreaded microphone, and am SO glad I did!  No great stories to tell, other than “I did it!” but that’s enough for me.  I did something I was very afraid to do, I did it well, and I feel more comfortable now with the idea of public speaking than I did last Friday.

We all have things we’re afraid of, and it can be anything from my oh-so-common fear of public speaking to a fear of dogs or going gray or falling flat on your face.  I’m sure you can think of a few that you personally feel more keenly than others. Many of them are irrational fears that have nothing to do with safety and health, and everything to do with hangups and ingrained beliefs. I have a magnet on my washing machine that is a black square, simply stating “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It’s attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, and  I don’t doubt that her life proved it largely true. New situations, experiences, and responsibilities are scary … and often rewarding.  The trick is getting ourselves to choose them, and have a chance to experience the growth, knowledge, and wisdom that they offer. 

Change is scary.  Failing is scary.  Finding limitations is scary.  Looking “stupid” is scary.  Being a mom is scary! Giving birth is scary.  ANYTHING can be scary, but it’s not worth missing out on the juicy bits of life because of those fears!  Eleanor’s words are simple, and I believe worth living.  There’s no limit to the experiences you can rack up, rich friendships you can build, and knowledge you can gain if you simply step out and do something that scares you.  My best memories are often the result of taking a risk.  Asking that daring question of a virtual stranger.  Buying that ticket to a place where I couldn’t understand a word.  Jumping out of that plane.  Starting that business.  Choosing that home birth.  Sitting down to that dinner in the jungle.  The list goes on, and while not all of them turned out perfectly, I don’t regret a single one of them.

How to kick those fears and start trying new things?  A few things that work for me …

  • Committing to an event or date (preferably with a friend along) and then just psyching myself up to do it
  • Taking a class
  • Praying about and meditating on the fear
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) see the sidebar
  • Asking people who don’t appear afraid of X how they do it
  • Making impulse decisions so I don’t have time to think about the possible consequences :)
  • Thinking about how much I’ll regret it if I never do it
  • Telling my friends that I plan to do something, so they can hold me accountable.
  • Having someone challenge and then support me in the idea (this has been both friends and coaches in the past)

Those are just my pet ways of getting around it, there are more I’m sure.  Whatever your risk tolerance, there are things that you can push yourself to try, and the rewards are often priceless. Just try it!